12 men charged in $9.7m cheating case

The authorities hauled 12 men to court yesterday, charging them over their alleged roles in a cheating case involving about $9.7 million.

At the time of the alleged offences, four of the men were working for Civil Tech, a construction company.

Two of them, Ong Kok Peng, 41, and Gan Kok Leong, 43, were project directors at the company. Tan Chen Chuan, 39, was group finance manager, while Liauw Lee Meng, 55, was project manager.

A fifth man, Bong Saik King, 43, was a director at general contractor Global Civil Engineering at the time of the alleged offences.

In a statement, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said that between March and August 2016, the five men allegedly used subcontractors to submit claims to Civil Tech for works that had not been carried out.

They face 85 charges each.

Each man is accused of 30 counts of engaging in a conspiracy to create false invoices so as to support claims that work had been carried out when they had not been.

Each man also faces three counts of engaging in a conspiracy to cheat Civil Tech of some $9.7 million, among other charges.

Seven Civil Tech subcontractors were also charged yesterday over their alleged roles in the ruse.

One of them, Huang Zhiguo, 47, was a director at a firm called Hua Rong Engineering. He faces 20 charges in all, and is accused of intentionally helping Ong to cheat Civil Tech out of about $1.4 million in one charge. Ong is named in Huang's 19 remaining charges.

Five charges relate to abetment to create false invoices, where Huang is accused of helping Ong in making them to dupe Civil Tech into making payments.

The remaining six subcontractors were directors of different firms at the time of the alleged offences.

They are: Tan Heng Lee, 34, from Housing Replacement; Seow Yam Seng, 45, from Rui Feng Engineering & Construction; Zhuang He, 48, from Hong Hai Construction; Wong Mun Kin, 53, from Alliance Resources; Ang Lye Soon, 57, from Dowell Engineering Services; and Yu Yingjie, 59, from Da Ho Foundation.

Each man was handed between four and 10 charges linked to the alleged creation of false invoices.

According to court documents, Ang allegedly helped Huang to create them and Zhuang is said to have aided Bong to commit similar offences.

Yu is accused of assisting Ong to create the false invoices, while Tan Heng Lee is said to have committed his offences with Bong and Tan Chen Chuan.

Eleven of the men are Singaporeans, while Gan is a Malaysian.

All of their cases have been adjourned to next month.

The CPIB said in a statement yesterday: "Singapore adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption and other criminal activities."

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

And for each count of forgery, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2021, with the headline '12 men charged in $9.7m cheating case'. Subscribe